Review: Only the Brave Try Ballet by Stefanie London

braveballetHero: Grant Farley injured his hamstring on the field and must regain his flexibility quickly in order to play. He signs up for ballet lessons because he’s desperate for a “quick fix.” What he doesn’t expect is to find himself very attracted to his private tutor. Tweaking her tutu is just the kind of fun he likes.

Heroine: Jasmine Bell is a prim and proper ballerina. Or at least she was until she hurt herself. Now she can’t dance the way she loves. Pointe is completely out of the question and so is Grant Farley… he’s just like her last boyfriend. He wants a pretty thing on his arm and when she can’t be everything he wants, he’ll move onto the next model type. Grant’s determined to change her mind about him and ballet.

Review: If the hero and heroine hadn’t been injured they would never have met. It was a great premise. I liked Grant a lot as a hero. His bar fight that gets alluded to often is something he’s already taken care of, but he doesn’t want to screw up again and it gets to him. Most of his troubles feel like they are in his head. The same for the heroine. I had trouble caring about Jasmine’s fears of trying again to do proper ballet, especially once we learn that the doctor thinks its psychosomatic. So that didn’t work for me. However, Stefanie nails it on flirting and sexual chemistry. Oh la la!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Only the Brave Try Ballet

Audio Review: Midsummer Magic by Catherine Coulter

midsummer magicHero: Philip Hawsbury is no longer the second son. When his older brother died, he became the next Earl of Rothermere. Now his father is on his deathbed and Philip must fulfill a longstanding promise his father made to impoverished Alexander Kilbracken, the Scottish Earl of Ruthven. He must marry one of the daughters – Viola, Clare, or Frances.  He has no desire to wed anyone and would prefer to stay in London with his mistress. Now how can he proceed to do both?

Heroine: Frances does not want to be married off to Philip or really anyone sight unseen. She’s certain he’s going to be an arrogant Sassenach. She’s the apple of her father’s eye and has a premonition that her father would like to see her marry the man. Since she must be present and participate, she decides to do so in the worst way possible. While her sisters, Clare and Viola, vie for the young earl’s attention, she’s going to make herself ugly, aloof, and a shrew. Little does she know that she presents the perfect image of a wife for Philip – who wants to fulfill his father’s promise, but leave the missus behind at Desborough Hall while he pursues his London life unchecked and unencumbered.

Review: This book comes from the era of the “bodice-ripper” / “forced seduction” and has the flaws that associate with that period of romances. The hero for instance is not a worthy hero by today’s standard’s. He’s shallow and doesn’t learn to love the heroine in her disguise, but rather falls for her [beauty] when it comes off. He’s also either a product of his times or an idiot because he doesn’t think wives should be treated like mistresses and in so believing makes zero attempts to please his bride when he and she do their “duties” to conceive.  But it’s supposed to be acceptable and tolerable because both characters don’t know any better. Baloney. He also likes to pretend he’s the wounded party in all of this, which is very aggravating.

When he’s not being an irritating jerk he at least remembers the cream (which is not saying much.)

It should be noted that the heroine’s characterization starts off great – she’s feisty, stands up to her father, and tries to trick the hero with a “clever” ugly duckling disguise. But then this tom-boyish, heart of gold (she walks miles to visit her father’s tenets,) strong heroine gets replaced by someone else entirely during their “honeymoon” stage. She’s uncertain, quiet, mousey, and timid – and not just for the appearance of keeping up her disguise.

So what did work for me was the beginning and the initial set-up.

Narrator: Anne Flosnik as usual had a wonderful performance. She is one of the reasons I stuck with the story to the end.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Midsummer Magic (Magic Trilogy), Midsummer Magic (Audiobook)

Review: Until We Touch (Fool’s Gold, Book 15) by Susan Mallery

until we touchReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Jack McGarry is having a talk about Larissa Owens and learns something interesting.  Larissa is relatively new to Fool’s Gold but she loves it there.  They work together in the same office.  The reader should realize early on that this is going to be a book that is hard to put down.  You will realize that this can be read as a stand-alone.  But you will find it very hard at times not to either smile or laugh.

So if you’ve never read this series before you won’t be lost.  And I hope that if this is your first read in the “Fool’s Gold” series that this will be incentive for you to read the other books.  If you stop over to Susan’s web site, http://susanmallery.com/series.html, you’ll notice that she makes it easy for her readers – she breaks this series down by years.

I’m not joking when I say how easy it is to get lost in this story.  I was never so happy to have a day where I had to take my father to a series of medical appointments.  I got to finish this great book with only a few interruptions.  But be prepared – I took him to one of our local bookstores and was getting toward the end when I started to get tears in my eyes.  But luck was on my side because I could blame it on my Frappuccino.  The only disappointment in the ending was that there was no picture – you’ll understand when you get to that point.

This book is a must have.  If you’re a reader who still loves paperbacks and also has an e-reader, personally this is a series that is perfect to have in paperback form.  With the amount of time I spent reading that day I was out with my father, my e-reader would have run out of power.  Make sure to also mark your calendar; the next book will be coming out in October.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Until We Touch (Fool’s Gold Book 15)

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10 Reasons Football Players Should Do Ballet

ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET cover medGuest blog by Stefanie London, author of Only the Brave Try Ballet

I love books that throw unlikely pairings together. In my debut novel, Only the Brave Try Ballet, I put a former wild-child football player and an ex-professional ballerina together…oh, and I made the footy player take ballet lessons just to make him extra uncomfortable. Grant and Jasmine do seem like an odd couple, but they find more commonalities between their lives and their careers than they first expect. Jasmine has the tough task of convincing Grant that the ballet lessons will help him.

So why would a football player take ballet lessons? Here are a few reasons I came up with:

Ten Reasons Football Players Should Do Ballet:

  1. Flexibility – both his and hers!
  2. Core stability – important both on the footy field and in the bedroom
  3. Sweat – ballet may not look it, but it’s an amazing work out
  4. Ballet teachers – much better than what a footballer will find in the men’s locker room
  5. Strength – ballet works the whole body, but it’s especially great for thighs and calves
  6. Injury prevention – all that stretching is great for keeping muscles and joints injury free
  7. Increased body awareness – holding ballet positions increases awareness of how the body moves and the muscles work
  8. Mental challenge – many football players started when they were kids, they know the game inside out. Ballet is a whole new world for them to conquer
  9. Romance – ballet is romantic and passionate, maybe the footy players could pick up a few tips?
  10. Love – they might just meet the love of their life…Grant Farley sure did!

Official Blurb:

Step up, Grant Farley…not your typical ballet student!

Football pro Grant Farley is nursing an injury and needs to get back into shape—fast. Ballet wouldn’t be his first or even his last choice, but he’s desperate. Enter tantalizingly prim teacher Jasmine Bell—one disapproving arch of her eyebrow and Grant knows he’ll enjoy getting her tutu in a flutter!

But it’s not only Grant’s flexibility that Jasmine’s pushing to the limit! He knows she feels the heat between them, so why won’t she give in to it? Time to convince Jasmine that if she’s brave enough to dance en pointe she can certainly handle a fling with him!

Buy: Only the Brave Try Ballet

IMG_0449_2 - smlAuthor Bio: Growing up, Stefanie came from a family of women who loved to read. Her favourite activity was going shopping with her Nan during school holidays, where she would sit on the floor of the bookstore with her little sister and painstakingly select the books to spend her allowance on. Thankfully, Nan was a patient woman.

Thus, it was no surprise Stefanie was the sort of student who would read her English books before the semester started. After sneaking several literature subjects into her ‘very practical’ Business degree, she got a job in Communications. When writing emails and newsletters didn’t fulfil her creative urges, she turned to fiction and was finally able to write the stories that kept her mind busy at night.

Now she lives with her very own hero and dreams of travelling the world. She frequently indulges in her passions for good coffee, French perfume, high heels and zombie movies. Recently she gave up her day job to write sexy, contemporary romance stories and she couldn’t be happier.

Links: Stefanie loves to hear from her readers, you can find her at her website or on Facebook.

Get into Bed with Isobel Rey (Author Interview)

substitute

She’s driven by his desire…
It took all of Alexia’s courage to leave her abusive boyfriend and strike out on her own. When she lands a job at a glamorous sports agency, she thinks she finally has it made. But shy, blonde and beautiful, Alexia is totally unprepared for the fast sexual politics of rich men and ambitious women that is waiting for her. Most of all, she is totally unprepared for her dazzling but damaged new boss, Nathan Fallon.

Keira: It takes a lot of strength to walk away from domestic abuse. How does Alexia, in your book Substitute, gain her courage to do just that?

Isobel Rey: The kind of bullying that Alexia experiences is not obvious and overt, it’s the kind of drip, drip low grade bullying that builds gradually and erodes a woman’s confidence.  It’s insidious and creeps on her.    She gets the courage to leave when she realises how far she’s fallen, how he’s got into her head and under her skin to undermine her.    She looks at the closed door,  determined to sear the image in her mind to reinforce her decision to leave.    The decision to leave in these circumstances is often made after a small incident, it’s not the incident itself which prompts the action, but the cumulative effect of the bullying.   Something snaps in her head, and she knows she has to go.

Keira: Glamorous and sports? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Unless we’re talking about figure skating… are we?

Isobel: Well actually, having been around the world of sports promotion I can say that it is most definitely a glamorous world.   The world of Premiere League Soccer sees players who are paid millions, drive eye-wateringly expensive cars and sign multi-million pound sponsorship deals.    The world of tennis, Formula One racing, Soccer and now even Golf attract huge money, with the accompanying glamorous women and money hungry agents.  It’s a high octane world of partying, champagne and bed-hopping.

Keira: So what’s office politics like in Substitute and does it differ from normal life?

Isobel: The office politics in Substitute is typical of the type of business that attracts big money in any capital city in the world.   Any workplace where the stakes are high and naked ambition rubs up against huge egos is going to look like this.   I’ve worked in these workplaces!

Keira: Tell us about Nathan Fallon, her new boss? How is he damaged?

Isobel: Nathan is a soldier, an officer.   So many veterans suffer quietly with Post Dramatic Stress Syndrome because they don’t talk about their experiences.     In order to operate in the theatre of war, like Iraq or Afghanistan, they have to put some of their emotions away in a box in order to survive some of the horrors they see or the violence they are forced to commit to survive.     Nothing can prepare you for killing other human beings, not even in battle. They also suffer from a condition called Hyper-Vigilance, having been in threatening situations for 24 hours a day.     They then come home and find it difficult to reconnect with loved ones or new relationships.   Some cope better than others.  But Nathan has been rejected by the woman he thought would be there for him.    The thought of her kept him going during the fighting, but he feels a deep sense of betrayal when he comes home.  He’s an officer and a gentleman and has a huge sense of honour, loyalty and integrity.    He finds it very difficult to let that go.

Keira: Did your advertising experience help in the writing or publishing of this novel?

Isobel: Yes it did.    The world of advertising brings you into contact with all types of industries, including sports promotion.    I witnessed this world first hand, and let me tell you it’s no exaggeration!

Keira: How do you define love?

Isobel: Love is about complete trust and acceptance.    If you find the right person, they will be the best company in the world, and the one person you want to talk to first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.   They allow you to fly like a kite,   but they anchor you, so you don’t get blown off course.

Keira: What makes a great Happily Ever After? What’s required?

Isobel: A great happily ever after has to be realistic.   There’s no guarantee that the prince will love the princess in 5 years when the kids are screaming and the nannies have handed in their notice.    But if the two people involved are grounded enough to understand each other and want to accept everything about the other person then that happy ending is believable.

Keira: Any advice you’d give your younger self now that your first book is published?

Isobel: The personal advice I would give myself is never worry what other people think of you, the only people that count will accept you as you are.    And I’d give myself some professional advice as a writer – spend more time observing people and what makes them tick.

Keira: What are your favorite writing rituals that help put you in the writing mood?

Isobel: I like to take the weekend off and go to the coast, and sit in cafes by the beach with my laptop and headphones.   Listening to great music by the ocean really lets me switch off and get writing.

Keira: What’s up for you next?

Isobel: This is my first book in this genre, and I was encouraged to write it because of the types of world I get a window into from my job.    The book has been so well received that I think the next book will focus on a different world.      Haven’t decided which one yet!

Buy: Substitute

Review: Her Prodigal Passion (Mayhem in Mayfair, Book 4) by Grace Callaway

her prodigal passionHero: Paul Fines would love to reclaim his fortune through prizefighting. He’s good at boxing and thinks he could make it work. But everybody remembers his disgrace through gambling and drinking over the loss of a girl. His family and friends doubt his skill and ability to stay out of trouble… all except Charity, his sister’s best friend.

Heroine: Charity Sparkler, the daughter of a jeweler, has loved her best friend’s brother for a long while. At his worst, she visited him in a dangerous part of London and provided some creature comforts… not that he noticed as drunk as he was. He thought she was someone else which hurt dreadfully.

A marriage of convenience: Paul is a ladies man and at the start of the novel slept with two married twin sisters. It bites him in the butt later when one tries to sneak into his bed again to publically humiliate her husband. Paul can’t kick her out so he climbs out a window and across the building… only to collapse on Charity in the drawing room and compromise her at a house party. The only proper thing to do is wed.

Never gild a lily: Charity’s father has led her to believe all her life that she is an ugly duckling. She might be a little plain, but she’s not ugly. Is his intention to be unkind or cruel? Whatever his intentions, Charity is meek and bookish and incline to home and shop.

Review: Charity was and will be Paul’s biggest supporter. He needs someone like that in his life. Paul finds Charity very pretty now that she is out of her spots stage. He can’t imagine a marriage with anyone else – but isn’t very good as assuaging Charity on this. Their marriage will be more than either can hope for… but not for Charity’s father who is heavily indebted to another man. How will the young couple be able to handle the heavy weight of a bitter man’s debt? I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Grace Callaway is a remarkable writer. I loved the scene in the prologue where Paul seduces Charity. Very sexy!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Her Prodigal Passion (Mayhem in Mayfair)

Review: Liar, Liar, Hearts on Fire by Jennifer Zane

liar_liar_hearts_on_fire_72dpi_200x300Reviewed by Cara Lynn

This was a cute and funny book, with a cast of zany and odd-ball characters, including the owner of an adult bookstore who gives out (needed) advice on lovemaking and a bit of meddling. It has a little more story than some books that exist only to tie in the sex scenes.

Mike Ostranski is being stalked in Alaska while on vacation, and he is desperate to come up with something to get the woman off his back. His mother wants grandchildren and had hopes for the stalker and him.

Violet Miller answers the phone at the adult store, instead of her sister, only to hear Mike’s plea for help.

It is complicated by the fact that she has loved him through high school, and they consummated the deal one night, then he went off to become a doctor. She’s never quite got over her love for him or her perceived rejection.


He asks her to fake a relationship with him to get the other woman off his back. And he gives her a gigantic ugly ring.

Of course, you know they will fall in love. (I thought he had orchestrated it, but no.) And you know it will all turn out in the end. But not without a bit of excitement along the way, including Violet being held at gunpoint.

The sex is believable. Their foreplay includes getting to know each other again and a funny fishing scene and…

It was fun, and a whole lot better than the one I read just before this one.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Liar, Liar, Hearts On Fire

Review: Thrown by Colette Auclair

Thrown by Colette AuclairReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: No one knows about horse riding like professional horse trainer Amanda Vogel. She has aspirations and the drive to want to win big competitions, even the Olympics, yet she has seen her best friend die in a tragic riding accident, and feels that she can’t go on. Unhappy with her lot and down on her luck, she has to take a job tutoring a movie star’s spoiled children to ride. For three months she has to endure tutoring Grady’s daughters, but what if nothing in her new life is what it seems?

Review: Amanda thinks she will hate her time there, but when Grady is different to how she imagined he would be, she finds she might be in for a better time. She is a woman afraid of what her new life will do to her dreams as she still has them even after what happened to her friend. As we all know, no one can stop us dreaming of making a fresh start, but for her they might never be more than just that.

Good bits:

  • Decent plot twists.
  • The romance edge to the story is rather interesting and captures the imagination.
  • Grady is more of a sensitive man than Amanda thinks at first.

Bad bits:

  • A bit too long of a read.

Final Thoughts: Amanda and Grady could be a great couple despite the trouble he is having with his daughters. Amanda soon realises they only need order to their lives and once they start on the right path, they will do well and shake off their troublesome nature. Despite everything, Amanda could still enjoy her life with Grady as he isn’t the hotshot he pretends to be, he’s a man with a softer side she likes. As the title suggests, Amanda is thrown into a life she never thought possible with a man she never knew until she looked beyond the man she worked for.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Thrown